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Leadership: How to Get the Best out of your People – Part 2

Here is the second part of a three-part series on 12 important behaviours to develop to become a better leader. Ineffective leadership is among the top five reasons that hinder business development, because it’s tough to keep good employees when they work under a weak leader. Good employees want to work in an environment with good leadership. Conversely, mediocre employees are content with weak leaders because it is an environment where they can continue to under perform, and display their often stubborn and discouraging attitude across the entire organisation.

4. Setting the Tone

Tone is appropriately defined as the “feel” of the place. It is the first impressions that a customer, supplier or new employee gets upon first entering your place of business. For example, if you want employees that are motivated, energised and passionate, then those are the traits you should present. If you are negative, cranky, sullen, easily stressed or unresponsive, then it is most likely that those traits are displayed elsewhere in the organisation. Employees will get their behavioural cues from the person leading them. When there is a lack of a solid tone-setting leader, other voices become powerful. The underminers, the pot-stirrers and whiners have the chance to spread their message.

Culture is not taught, it is caught, which means your communication style and behaviour will be shown through your business culture. The buzz is created, or not, by the leaders. When it is finally time to again evaluate your business core values, you should clearly determine the expected tone. In one review of a client’s business core values, they identified the following tonal features: respectful, cheerful, constructive, energetic, positive and professional. Business owners want these tonal features implemented throughout their business. It has to start from the leader to be successful.

Tone also significantly affects customer service levels. The top service providers are those companies where tone setting is always implemented by the leader, and this is no fluke. This in turn is shown in how employees treat clients. Employees cannot be expected to present a positive, upbeat client experience, if they are undergoing the reverse in the workplace. Tone also has an effect on employee stress levels. Employee will also be stressed if a leader’s mood is tense, stressed or cranky. In turn, productivity will likely suffer and longevity will diminish.

So, “how is tone implemented?” First, determine the expected tone that all team members will share and embrace. Second, keep the tonal features a top priority to the point that you stop and think before responding to any communication or situation. It will be difficult at the beginning, but will come naturally over time. Third, set the tone daily. It should be done at the beginning of the day by performing a walk-around and devoting a minute to greet your team and being upbeat and optimistic about the coming day. Quality workers want to be headed by a person who radiate upbeat energy, positivity and optimism and shows that there is a solution to every challenge. Consistency is important. Don’t be negative, even if you feel it.

5. Walking the Talk

Quality leaders motivate their members because they involve their emotions. Trust is one of these emotions. It can take a long time to build trust and quick to destroy. Once it is broken it will not be easy to rebuild it. Trust is quickly broken when leaders fail to “practice what they preach.”

Think about a line manager or supervisor who requests team members to be productive and work hard, but takes a long break a couple of time weekly. Or a boss who says that all ideas and opinions are vital, but rejects them immediately. There’s also the General Manager who preaches about spending wisely, but buys pricey office equipment for his use. These may appear insignificant to the would-be leader, but leading by example is equally critical as leading with words, if not more crucial.

This is what makes a footy captain. Their actions on the field inspire their team members. They lead by taking the initiative to do things, especially the hard ones, which allows their business to come out on top. This is the same value parents implement daily to observe effective parenting. Parents rear their children by example because they are aware of their children watching them and listening to them.

Effective leaders use inspiration, trust, vision and excitement to push their team members forward. If your people don’t trust you, then interest will fade and productivity will decline. It will be hard for you to make your vision come true, all because your people don’t trust what you say. It is important for you as a leader to lead by example and walk the talk.

6. Fairness

Let’s be honest, we like to interact with some people more than others because we are more comfortable with them. We often naturally want to make friends with people who have same personality trait as us.

Being a leader in business or in other areas, you must be cautious with this element because since people value fairness, that is, no favouritism towards team members you “like.” Wanting to be treated fairly is a basic need in people. Be respectful and friendly to all your people but be wary of starting friendships with people who report to you. As an example, a National Sales Manager declined a dinner invitation from employees because he wanted to avoid appearing “unfair” in future employee promotion.

Fairness is not the same as, or should not be mistaken with, treating each person fairly. Treating people differently based on, for instance, their performance is acceptable. Think about the gun worker who works harder and longer than other workers and steadily contributes excellent results for the company. That worker will likely get disinterested if the “slacker” is treated the same.

Consistently communicating what success looks like, and conveying the complete background of decisions on such matters as employee promotion, task allocation and reward structures is the key again. It is essential that employees understand the basis of decisions so they feel that they are being treated equally. You can’t go wrong for being completely transparent.

Fairness is a major building block for respect, to the extent where good workers will resign if they feel they are not being treated fairly. The key here again is consistent performance feedback. Regular communication with your people assures them they have a voice and the freedom to talk about any issue relating to fairness within your organisation. At the very least, enforce your business policies equally to all employees.

The third part of this series will tackle “Competence”, “Maturity” and “Change Agent.”

‘Til then, rate yourself using the three leadership behaviours listed above and determine an improvement action for all that you can act on immediately to improve your leadership skill.

If you are considering outsourcing your bookkeeping, accounting and other business-related processes, but still allow you to make the big decisions and remain in control, contact PJS Accountants. We have has over 30 years experience with local Redlands businesses. Our team will be at your disposal, always ready to receive your calls and provide services, to help you to stay in charge of all aspects of your business. Call us for enquiries on how PJS Accountants can partner with you to improve your business.